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Caledonia - Along the Grand River

If there is a certain spirit about a town, it comes from the people who live there. It comes from being a proud Canadian, proud of a heritage within Canada and its province. The roots established in a hometown environment last forever. The courage of our forefathers who began with little more than strong backs and tough hands in a new land is astounding but admirable. The flourishing villages and farms along with mills passed on to the following generations provided the foundation for the country.

More than 150 years ago, Ranald McKinnon of Scottish ancestry, made sure the community of Caledonia took on his heritage when he named the town, its streets and squares. Edinburgh, the only town square left today, retains the town hall built in McKinnon’s time. Now a Heritage and Cultural Centre, it preserves the history and artifacts of our past and passes on the legacy left by McKinnon and others of his era.

The town is growing very rapidly these days with new developments branching out into what were once rural areas. Less than twenty years ago the population was stagnant at 3000. Now the statistics boast almost double that. Caledonia was once a town within the County of Haldimand, surrounded by the townships of Oneida and Seneca, with the Six Nations Reserve found at their borders. Today these areas and Caledonia, along with Cayuga, Hagersville and their surrounding districts, are contained within the Town of Haldimand, one of six area municipalities within the Regional Municipality of Haldimand Norfolk.

Ours is a picturesque, nostalgic community where one can walk the banks of the Grand River along a path that was once a towpath. This towpath is the tangible reminder of the heyday of river navigation, the reason for the town’s settlement in the 1830’s. The historic nine span bridge in the heart of town, the only one of its type in Canada, is of significant interest and another link with the river. With the recent designation of the Grand River as a Canadian Heritage River a new era and relationship begins.

Renowned for its natural beauty and cultural diversity, Caledonia, situated only a few miles south of Hamilton and within an hour’s drive of major cities in southern Ontario, has location as a key reason for its rapid growth. Other contributing factors can be found in the small town atmosphere, the nature of the people and their pride in their heritage.

We owe much to those who have gone before for they are the true links to our present and future. One such person was O.T. Scott who described what Caledonia was, and still is, in a poem written in 1927:

Our Village does not claim to be
The largest
in the land.
We’re just a pretty little burg
Along the River Grand.
But we have points of interest
That make life here worthwhile
And bring you home contented
When you’ve travelled many a mile.

And we in business want to build,
And keep our Town’s good name,
To pull together, lend a hand
And learn to play the game.
And so a toast, I give to you,
I ask you drink it
deep -
The Town of Caledonia
My town —
to build and keep.

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